Pre-French and Indian Horns?

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DixieTexian

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If there were eastern buffalo roaming the area there wouldn't be records of horns being imported. And if Horner's preferred to work with imported horns because they were more suited to their trade then they wouldn't have records of buying them from hunters and such. However it would make sense that some folks and probably plenty of natives would have made them out of the animals they killed for meat. So I would imagine that a crude or simple buffalo powder horn like what someone might have made for themselves would not be out of place.
 

DixieTexian

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Close to my old home in Oklahoma were a pair of Texas Longhorns. Typically thin waisted, large chest - and LONG horns. These were prize animals and the spread of their horns exceeded 10' tip to tip.
The current world record is something like eight and a half feet tip to tip.
 
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I know Colonial British American Militia were often required by Militia Laws to carry a minimum amount of powder in their powder horns, if they did not have the required number of already made cartridges.

I know nothing of what French Militia Laws were or even if they had them.

I wonder if there were French Militia laws that required each man to carry a minimum amount of powder?

Gus
That’s interesting. The sort of thing that makes me stroke by beard while looking off aimlessly.
The yoeman archer and before him the fyrd ie militiamen was already a well ingrained part of English life before the colonies.
While France, and in general the whole of Europe was uncomfortable with armed peasants
I wonder how much New France and Louisiana trusted it’s peasant class.
In general French colonist were on better terms with Indians around them. If a colonial French died in battle it was most likely an English colonist or a Spanish soldier, and a fair chance a professional fighting man.
 
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In general French colonist were on better terms with Indians around them. If a colonial French died in battle it was most likely an English colonist or a Spanish soldier, and a fair chance a professional fighting man.
In general the French were on better terms, however the Fox in N. Illinois were always hostile and the Chickasaw in Tennessee killed quite a few Frenchmen including D'Artaguiette during the disastrous (for the French) Chickasaw wars. There was also a few who lost their lives to Indians around Fort de Chartres but luckily it was mostly isolated, I attribute this in large part due to the intermarriages of the French and Indians in the area.

I will see what I can glean from some books regarding inventories at the barracks for Fort de Chartres regarding military horn sizes.
 
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I know Colonial British American Militia were often required by Militia Laws to carry a minimum amount of powder in their powder horns, if they did not have the required number of already made cartridges.

I know nothing of what French Militia Laws were or even if they had them.

I wonder if there were French Militia laws that required each man to carry a minimum amount of powder?

Gus
Do you have a source for the British Militia law regarding the minimum powder amount? Not doubting or challenging you asking because I was asked and could not answer, Thanks!
 
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Do you have a source for the British Militia law regarding the minimum powder amount? Not doubting or challenging you asking because I was asked and could not answer, Thanks!
Hi FC,

The earliest Act I can easily lay my hands on that spoke to this was the Virginia Militia Act of 1738. It required each Militia "Footman" or what would later be called a Militia foot soldier or Infantryman to have the following:

1738—An Act for better Regulation of the Militia

"And every footman [as opposed to horse-man] shall be furnished with a firelock, musket, or fuzee, well fixed [in good order], a bayonet fitted to same, or a cutting sword or cutlass, a cartouch-box, and three cartridges of powder; and appear with the same at the time and place appointed for muster and exercise, as foresaid; and shall also keep at his house, one pound of powder, and four pounds of ball;"

(The "three cartridges of powder" were for blank firing practice during their drill practice at each muster and/or firing a salute when called upon. The pound of powder and four pounds of ball were to be brought when the Militia was called out for the defense of the colony.)

Hening's Statutes at Large (vagenweb.org)

This was repeated in Virginia Militia Acts/Laws of 1755; 1757; 1762; and 1775

Earlier Acts I've read from Massachussetts and some other colonies also required at least a half pound of powder for very early acts to the one pound of powder that seemed to have been common around the turn of the 18th century


Gus
 
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oreclan

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Agree. This falls into the “could have happened” category, like using gourds or canteens or wine bottles as powder horns in the Illinois region pre-1750.

I repeat there are zero documented bison powder horns pre 1770. There are hundreds of documented cattle powder horns pre-1770. If the goal is to settle on whatever seems possible and feels cool, without any likelihood attached, that has nothing to do with the original question, which was aimed toward what would be a likely powder container for someone in the vicinity of Fort de Chartes pre-1750.
There is a "Fort Pitt" era (1750s-69) bison powderhorn on display at the Ft. Pitt Heinz Museum in Pittsburgh. It is professionally engraved, not scrimshawed, and filled in with a red color. It has the fort as well as the three rivers depicted. There is a "crest" with initials within it. The rivers I believe are named (You can see "Pittsburg" in this photo.) The butt plug is fairly flat with a beveled edge, a bottle turned neck and it has a lobe with two holes and ; if I recall, five points.
I could not find a better picture on line.
1643313852150.png
 
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oreclan

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Powder horn (ca. 1765)
Unlike the more common white powder receptacles made from a cow’s horn, this rare black one comes from a bison. It features a carving of Fort Pitt and is believed to have been carved by John Small, an Irish immigrant gunsmith who served in the militia at the fort before lighting out for the Indiana territory. (MH)
~ Fort Pitt Museum, Sen. John Heinz History Center
1643315250527.png
 

rich pierce

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Nice buffao horn. I agree that horns existed circa 1750 :). What would your guess be on percentage of powderhorns on the Illinois frontier being Buffalo horns pre-1750?

Here are my working premises:
1)The people there bought, traded for, or were supplied most of their material durable goods and many consumables. Guns, knives, axes, powder, lead or ball, flints, much of their cloth, were all brought with or acquired there - not made there.
2) Powder horns last decades unless lost. Once a person gets a powder horn, they have a powder horn. If they came there with a gun, they brought a powder horn. If they were milice they may have been provided a powder horn there for duty.
3) Cattle were common. We know for example that Fort Pitt consumed hundreds of cattle. Most cattle had horns. If for some reason a person wanted to make a powder horn, cattle horns would be readily available.
4) Making a powder horn from a buffalo horn is something best done with access to real tools. A saw to saw the horn and core from the skull, a big pot to boil it in to remove the core, a drill for the spout, and a coarse file are quite helpful in making a horn. So, romantic as the notion may be, a man’s time out on a hunt can be more profitably spent than attempting to make a buffalo powder horn with a knife. It could be done but I’d not want to tackle it.
5) A buffalo powder horn likely had less “wow” factor for seasoned frontiersmen than to us today.
6) It’s hard to get a buffalo horn of size comparable to ox horns. I have original powder horns that easily hold 1.25 pounds of powder. One holds a pound an a half. Fill her up and shooting 70 grains of powder per ball, it’s good for 150 shots if my math is right. I see this as an advantage, and folks there and then may have also.
 
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Lieutenant Jean-Bernard Bossu stationed at Fort de Chartres 1750-1756 described the Indian hunters along the Mississippi November 6 1751.
"Their arms consist of a rifle, a buffalo horn for powder strung across the shoulder and a small skin sack in which to keep bullets, flints and a wad-extractor"
 
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In general the French were on better terms, however the Fox in N. Illinois were always hostile and the Chickasaw in Tennessee killed quite a few Frenchmen including D'Artaguiette during the disastrous (for the French) Chickasaw wars. There was also a few who lost their lives to Indians around Fort de Chartres but luckily it was mostly isolated, I attribute this in large part due to the intermarriages of the French and Indians in the area.

I will see what I can glean from some books regarding inventories at the barracks for Fort de Chartres regarding military horn sizes.
That is why I qualified it with in general😊
 
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Nice buffao horn. I agree that horns existed circa 1750 :). What would your guess be on percentage of powderhorns on the Illinois frontier being Buffalo horns pre-1750?

Here are my working premises:
1)The people there bought, traded for, or were supplied most of their material durable goods and many consumables. Guns, knives, axes, powder, lead or ball, flints, much of their cloth, were all brought with or acquired there - not made there.
2) Powder horns last decades unless lost. Once a person gets a powder horn, they have a powder horn. If they came there with a gun, they brought a powder horn. If they were milice they may have been provided a powder horn there for duty.
3) Cattle were common. We know for example that Fort Pitt consumed hundreds of cattle. Most cattle had horns. If for some reason a person wanted to make a powder horn, cattle horns would be readily available.
4) Making a powder horn from a buffalo horn is something best done with access to real tools. A saw to saw the horn and core from the skull, a big pot to boil it in to remove the core, a drill for the spout, and a coarse file are quite helpful in making a horn. So, romantic as the notion may be, a man’s time out on a hunt can be more profitably spent than attempting to make a buffalo powder horn with a knife. It could be done but I’d not want to tackle it.
5) A buffalo powder horn likely had less “wow” factor for seasoned frontiersmen than to us today.
6) It’s hard to get a buffalo horn of size comparable to ox horns. I have original powder horns that easily hold 1.25 pounds of powder. One holds a pound an a half. Fill her up and shooting 70 grains of powder per ball, it’s good for 150 shots if my math is right. I see this as an advantage, and folks there and then may have also.
From a later time then colonial Louis Anna we often hear of boys caught with just what’s on their back and have a full horn but only a few ball.
We have seen some colonial horns at only about half a pound or so
Soldiers at the time didn’t take too many rounds in to battle. I’ve read even as late as the Alamo the Mexican forces only issued only ten shots.
 
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Wow, lots to digest guys. Thanks! Please keep the discussion going.

I’m leaning towards a large cow horn. Probably pretty simple in design. Also, a woven cloth strap for the horn.
 
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I am not discounting the use of some buffalo powder horns in use at the time, however, here are some things to consider.

In "Colonial Frontier Guns," Hamilton makes a point I never thought about before reading it and that was the French controlled MOST of the trade in lead balls and shot west of the Appalachian Mountains until the end of the FIW. Since they could much more easily move the weight of the lead balls/shot up the Mississippi and then by rivers going to the East, British Traders often didn't even try to pack a lot of the heavy lead over the mountains.

OK, so what did the French based in and around New Orleans at the turn of the 18th century otherwise provide for trade with both Native Americans and French Settlers? Of course, they provided French Trade Guns, powder and lead balls/shot, but what else? Since NA's and French Settlers who didn't already have guns would have needed them, the French Traders supplied powder horns as well. I'm not sure about this, though it is quite possible the powder horn came included with price of the guns, as any smart Trader would have done. Those powder horns would have been made from the cow horns they received from the Spanish in Mexico. So, I'm thinking it was far more likely the first powder horn many NA's and French Settlers would have had was made from cow horn.

They may have replaced a lost or broken cow horn powder horn with one made from buffalo horn. It's even possible they may have made an additional and smaller buffalo horn powder horn for use in hunting and kept the larger cow horn powder horn as a powder "storage" horn.

Side note. Hamilton and the period French Trade Lists he provides don't seem to include many or even any bullet molds for the guns they traded. Hamilton doesn't come right out and say this, but it looks to me like the canny French Traders deliberately did not commonly provide bullet molds. That way they made more money off trading lead balls and shot.

Gus
 
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From the Kaskaskia manuscripts, list of merchandise in the Fort de Chartres magazine dated 1751-1752 from Macarty correspondence.
It separates items for the Indians, items for the inhabitants, barracks, hospital, magasin and office.
It lists ramrods, flints, trade muskets, tomahawks, gunpowder (10,000 lbs? illegible) lead pellets, no mention of either powderhorns or bullet molds for the Indians or inhabitants.

Lots of other stuff of course, shirts, blankets, combs, knives etc. etc.
 
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From the Kaskaskia manuscripts, list of merchandise in the Fort de Chartres magazine dated 1751-1752 from Macarty correspondence.
It separates items for the Indians, items for the inhabitants, barracks, hospital, magasin and office.
It lists ramrods, flints, trade muskets, tomahawks, gunpowder (10,000 lbs? illegible) lead pellets, no mention of either powderhorns or bullet molds for the Indians or inhabitants.

Lots of other stuff of course, shirts, blankets, combs, knives etc. etc.
Were other trade goods stored in the trading post/store and/or in other outbuildings?

Gus
 
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Everything in that particular list was stored in the magasin, the building we now know as the powder magazine and was under the control of Chevallier Barthelmy Macarty-MacTigue who was the commandant of the Fort 1751-1760.

One of the BEST books on the area is "The Forgotten Colony: 'Le Pays des Ilinois'" by Winstanley Briggs 1985.

Hard to find but an absolute gem, discusses everyday life, the almost matriarchal society that helped make an Indian women, Marie Rouensa, one of the richest women in the area, When different items first appeared, how items were shipped (flat boats of 70-100 ton capacity) etc. etc.
 

Belleville

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The large 1752 death inventory at Ft. Mich'ac for Claude Martin trader, incl. 17 powder horns.
 

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